Randomized clinical trials of acute stroke have led to major advances in acute stroke therapy over the past decade. Despite these successes, recruitment in acute trials is often difficult. We outline challenges in recruitment for acute stroke trials and present potential solutions, which can increase the speed and decrease the cost of identifying new treatments for acute stroke. One of the largest opportunities to increase the speed of enrollment and make trials more generalizable is expansion of inclusion criteria whose impact on expected recruitment can be assessed by epidemiologic and registry databases. Another barrier to recruitment besides the number of eligible patients is availability of study investigators limited to business hours, which may be helped by financial support for after-hours call. The wider use of telemedicine has accelerated quicker stroke treatment at many hospitals and has the potential to accelerate research enrollment but requires training of clinical investigators who are often inexperienced with this approach. Other potential solutions to enhance recruitment include rapid prehospital notification of clinical investigators of potential patients, use of mobile stroke units, advances in the process of emergency informed consent, storage of study medication in the emergency department, simplification of study treatments and data collection, education of physicians to improve equipoise and enthusiasm for randomization of patients within a trial, and clear recruitment plans, and even potentially coenrollment, when there are competing trials at sites. Without successful recruitment, scientific advances and clinical benefit for acute stroke patients will lag.
- data collection
- financial support
- informed consent
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
- Advanced and Specialized Nursing